Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education et al.

(Full Title: Doe et al. v. Mount Vernon City School District Board Of Education et al.)

On June 13, 2008, the "Doe" (pseudonym) family filed suit against the Board of Education of the Mount Vernon City School District, Ohio; against the district's superintendent and the principal of Mount Vernon City School; and against John Freshwater, their son's eighth-grade science teacher at the aforementioned school.

In its complaint, the Doe family claimed that Freshwater had proselytized in class, displayed religious material (which was not for his personal use) in the classroom, attacked evolution and taught intelligent design, and branded students with a Tesla coil; James Doe had received a painful brand on his arm in the shape of a cross. The Does also claimed that Freshwater had led prayer sessions for a Christian student club, and had violated various other administrative policies. When the Does complained to the principal and district administration, the latter did not take action to correct Freshwater's behavior or to prevent retaliation against their son. The Does' suit charges the defendants with violating the Establishment Clause and their right to free speech.

Shortly after the filing of this suit, the Board voted to terminate Freshwater's employment. Freshwater appealed, and an administrative hearing on the termination decision is currently underway. Freshwater filed a counterclaim in this suit against the Does on September 2, 2008, and filed his own lawsuit against the school district and associated persons in June 2009. The Doe family agreed to testify in the termination hearing under their true names, making their identities public, and voluntarily lifted the protective order keeping their identities secret. The Protective Order remains in place with respect to the identity of all minors other than James Doe.

On August 26, 2010, the Board agreed to a settlement with the Dennis family (who originally filed suit under the pseudonym "Doe"). The public terms of this settlement gave the Dennis Family $115,000 for legal costs, awarded $5,500 to the son, and $1 each to the parents.

On November 23, 2010, John Freshwater agreed to a settlement with the Dennis family. $25,000 was awarded for attorney's fees, $150,000 was awarded to the son, and $300,000 awarded to the parents.

On December 3, 2010, the judge presiding over the case approved the above settlement of $475,000 to the Dennis family.

Key legal documents for this case are provided at the bottom of this page. They are arranged in chronological order.



Related NCSE Articles


News: Creationist teacher sued in Ohio

News: Creationist teacher in Ohio to be fired

News: Hearing scheduled for creationist teacher's appeal in Ohio

News: Partial settlement in Freshwater case

News: Settlement in Freshwater case imminent

News: Settlement in Freshwater case

News: Settlement in Freshwater case final

Related Off-Site Material


Extensive blog coverage at The Panda's Thumb, including Richard Hoppe's day-by-day accounts of Freshwater's termination hearing

Coverage of the Freshwater Controversy at the Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon News: School board resolves federal lawsuit

Coverage of the Freshwater case at the Columbus Dispatch. See the "Read the Report" and "Web Extras" sections of this page for district documents relevant to the case.

AttachmentSize
6/13/08: Original Complaint96.95 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 1323.86 KB
6/13/08: Plaintiffs' motion for protective order97.32 KB
6/23/08: Court grants protective order8.6 KB
8/11/08: Amended complaint42.13 KB
8/13/08: Defendant Freshwater's motion for extension of deadline10.83 KB
8/15/08: Court order granting extension8.65 KB
8/20/08: Defendant Board's motion for extension16.87 KB
8/21/08: Court order granting extension8.83 KB
9/2/08: Defendant Freshwater's counterclaim to complaint32.03 KB
9/2/08: Defendant Freshwater's answer to complaint53.8 KB
9/2/08: Defendant Board's answer to complaint42.57 KB
9/19/08: Plaintiffs' and Board's motion for new protective order141.43 KB
9/22/08: Plaintiffs' answer to Freshwater's counterclaim16 KB
9/23/08: Defendant Freshwater's opposition to new protective order898.54 KB
9/23/08: Defendant Freshwater's memorandum in opposition993.14 KB
9/26/08: Plaintiffs' and Boards' reply to Freshwater's memoranda317.18 KB
9/29/08: Defendant Freshwater's supporting memorandum in opposition56.19 KB
9/29/08: Court order granting Freshwater leave to file supplemental memorandum7.52 KB
9/30/08: Court denies new protective order20.22 KB
10/9/08: Court order on trial scheduling7.54 KB
10/9/08: Court order on pretrial scheduling14.88 KB
11/7/08: Court grants new protective order12.99 KB
1/21/09: Plaintiffs' Exhibit A for above motion292.09 KB
1/21/09: Plaintiffs' Exhibit C for above motion828.8 KB
1/21/09: Plaintiffs' withdrawal of motion as to Board16.07 KB
1/22/09: Plaintiffs' withdrawal of motion as to Freshwater16.11 KB
1/29/09: Court notice of settlement week conference8.03 KB
6/10/09: Memorandum relating case to Freshwater v. Mount Vernon Board of Education69.23 KB
7/24/09: Notice of deposition of Does, August 1823.52 KB
8/6/09: Motion for admission of Leslie E. McCarthy pro hac vice91.52 KB
8/6/09: Order on motion for admission17.48 KB
9/30/09: Agreed motion to dismiss Defendants Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education, Stephen Short, and William White21.5 KB
10/1/09: Order dismissing all claims against Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education, Stephen Short, and William White with prejudice22.97 KB
10/9/09: Joint motion to extend the discovery deadline38.51 KB
10/13/09: Entry granting joint motion to extend the discovery deadline27.53 KB
11/13/09: Motion by Plaintiffs to manually file limited electronic media as exhibits in support of a motion for summary judgment87.88 KB
11/16/09: Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment140.49 KB
11/16/09: Plaintiffs' motion to amend a prior protective order82.13 KB
11/16/09: Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment with exhibits32.21 MB
11/16/09: Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment1.81 MB
12/9/09: Plaintiffs' opposition to Defendant's Rule 56(f) motions19.12 KB
11/16/09: Order amending prior protective order33 KB
11/16/09: Order on motion for leave to file8.04 KB
12/9/09: Defendant's Rule 56(f) motion for extension of time to file a memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment13.97 KB
12/9/09: Defendant's reply memorandum in support of his Rule 56(f) motion37.38 KB
12/9/09: Defendant's Rule 56(f) motion for extension of time to file a memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment or in the alternative to supplement his memo110.92 KB
12/10/09: Order on motion for extension8.26 KB
12/30/09: Plaintiff's motion to compel production of documents and further deposition of John Freshwater415.64 KB
12/31/09: Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment61.06 KB
12/31/09: Counterclaimant/Defendant John Freshwater (in his personal capacity) memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment46.24 KB
12/31/09: Defendant's memorandum in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment9.88 MB
1/7/10: Order on motion for permission to amend8.36 KB
1/7/10: Motion for permission to file out of time to amend/correct, adding exhibits to the previous memorandum37.34 MB
1/14/10: Defendant's reply memorandum in support of his motion for partial summary judgment1.54 MB
1/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of their motion for partial summary judgment4.17 MB
1/20/10: Counterclaimant/Defendant John Freshwater (in his personal capacity) memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion to compel43.93 KB
1/20/10: Defendant's memorandum in opposition to plaintiffs' motion to compel32.99 KB
1/27/10: Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Compel: Exhibits 2140.85 KB
1/27/10: Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Compel: Exhibits 3124.9 KB
1/27/10: Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Compel: Exhibits 110.95 KB
1/27/10: Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Compel: Exhibits 4120.24 KB
1/27/10: Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Compel37.24 KB
4/6/10: Order on Motion for Summary Judgment99.23 KB
4/8/10: Proposed Pretrial Order57.41 KB
4/12/10: Order on motion to compel21.74 KB
4/12/10: Notice of Appearance14.08 KB
4/14/10: Final pretrial order47.63 KB
4/19/10: Motion in lemine to exclude defendant's classroom instruction prior to 2007-2008 school year and conduct outside the classroom31.94 KB
4/26/10: Response in opposition to motion34.32 KB
4/27/10: Motion to withdraw as attorney27.66 KB
4/27/10: motion to withdraw as attorney: exhibit 265.65 KB
4/27/10: motion to withdraw as attorney: exhibit 163.67 KB
4/28/10: Opinion and order on motion to exclude prior classroom instruction and conduct12.83 KB
4/28/10: Order on motion to withdraw as council670.9 KB
5/3/10: Motion for continuance751.65 KB
5/4/10: Order on motion to continue679.29 KB
5/4/10: Order placing exhibits under seal640.95 KB
5/4/10: Motion to seal exhibits669.91 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit E728.84 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - list of exhibits750.67 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit H718.89 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions for Defendant's failure to comply with discovery orders719.67 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit F723.49 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit B755.75 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit J725.14 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit I629.75 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit K1.47 MB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit A722.88 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit C749.53 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit G756.14 KB
5/7/10: Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions - Exhibit D751.22 KB
5/10/10: Reply to Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for continuance and motion for sanctions1.53 MB
5/11/10: Opinion and order on motion for continuance and motion for sanctions1.52 MB
5/12/10: Order placing exhibits under seal1.56 MB
5/12/10: Plaintiffs' motion to seal exhibits1.55 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit D1.49 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - list of exhibits1.51 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit C748.19 KB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit A742.47 KB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions1.52 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit E1.47 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit B759.52 KB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit F1.53 MB
5/14/10: Plaintiffs' reply in support of motion for sanctions - Exhibit G1.53 MB
5/27/10: Gag order1.4 MB
6/1/10: Opinion and order on motion for continuance and motion for sanctions1.46 MB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 76.46 MB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration23.54 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 2125.63 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 368.36 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 4116.91 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 558.07 KB
6/15/10: Motion for reconsideration: Attachment 6120.08 KB
6/21/10: Order7.56 KB
6/23/10: Motion for discovery230.9 KB
6/23/10: Motion for discovery - Main23.65 KB
6/24/10: Order on Motion for discovery46.53 KB
7/1/10: Plaintiffs' motion to file under seal and exhibit containing documents subject to a gag order17.41 KB
7/1/10: Order on motion to file under seal23.2 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - main59.68 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 7194.5 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 2129.41 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 111.66 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 37.49 MB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 4131.79 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 551.5 KB
7/2/10:Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion for reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 and motion for judgment or evidentiary inferences - Exhibit 6102.75 KB
7/13/10: Reply to memorandum in opposition to reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 201042.94 KB
7/13/10: Reply to memorandum in opposition to reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 - Exhibit 227.99 KB
7/13/10: Reply to memorandum in opposition to reconsideration of opinion and order issued June 1, 2010 - Exhibit 11.66 MB
7/14/10: Notice of hearing7.55 KB
7/29/10: Civil minutes6.55 KB
8/2/10: Opinion and order on motion for reconsideration28.32 KB
9/26/08: Defendant Freshwater's supplemental memorandum in opposition81.39 KB
9/28/10: Defendant's Motion to Seal Settlement42.38 KB
9/28/10: Order on Defendant's Motion to Seal Settlement36.9 KB
11/23/10: Doe-Freshwater Settlement Terms3.61 MB
12/3/10: Agreed Dismissal Order37.51 KB